Sunday, December 11, 2005

Are you or have you ever been…? Repent or else!

A story in the back pages of Sunday’s Washington Post added more than angst to my weary brain. What in God’s green little acre are we doing in the Middle East?

Worthy of front-page coverage, the story on page A-24 reports how freedom of the press works in Afghanistan. A journalist was jailed and faces execution for the unpardonable sin of telling truth to the public.

The Post chronicles the story of Ali Mohaqueq Nasah, a former exile, who returned to his homeland after the Taliban fell; he started a monthly magazine, Women’s Rights.

This past May, Nasah wrote a series of blistering articles about women’s plight, their lack of legal rights, and the over-all unjust criminal system in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

As a result of his writings, Nasah was charged with “contravene[ing] the teachings of Islam by printing essays in his magazine…that questioned legal discrimination against women, harsh physical punishments for criminals and rigid intolerance of Muslims who abandon their faith.”

Nasah was sentenced to two years in prison, but if he does not repudiate his position, Muslim laws call for him to be hanged. He has steadfastly maintained he is not going to recant anything.

"I haven't committed any sin to repent for. If I'm not a sinner, then why should I repent?" he said. "I'm a Muslim, and what I mentioned in my magazine doesn't have a single conflict with my religion. I'm more of a religious person than they are."

The conservative clerics’ argument for Nasah to repent or be executed reminds me of an earlier scene played out on Fox News Sunday Show with Bianca Jagger, peace activist and former wife of Mick Jagger, and the prosecutor who convicted Tookie Williams, Robert Martin.

Martin argues that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should not grant clemency to Williams who is set to be executed on Tuesday because he has not repented for murdering two people.

“He's non-repentant,” Martin said. “He has committed multiple murders. Friends and acquaintances have come into the courtroom and testified that he bragged about the killings.

To which Miss Jagger replied,
“Mr. Williams has maintained from the very beginning that he did not commit those crimes. I don't know if you know that there were not DNA evidence. There was no blood. The only basis on the way that they condemn him was because of an informant. Now, there are questionable evidence about the shell of the — the bullet shell, and they have always asked to have the opportunity to have photomicrograph, because the way it was determined at the time was not a scientific way.”
If you admit your guilt, we’ll fry you for breaking the law. And if you maintain your innocence, we’ll fry you anyway.

This is the law, saith the government.

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